The Northern Saskatchewan Administration District (NSAD) is defined in the province's Northern Municipalities Act, 2010. This area's creation dates back to The Northern Administration Act, 1948, which provided for the administration and development of the northern part of Saskatchewan.
The NSAD covers approximately half of Saskatchewan's land area. However, less than four per cent of the province's population live in the over 40 communities located in the north, as shown in the 2016 Census statistics below:
- A total of 16,122 living in incorporated municipalities (towns, northern villages, northern hamlets)
- A total of 19,652 living in northern First Nation reserves
- A total of 1,115 living in the District (see below)
The District is considered a single northern municipality and includes:
- Northern settlements
- Resort subdivisions
- Upwards of 8,000 properties, including leases and titled properties
Basically, it encompasses all unorganized areas in the north with the exception of:
- Park lands
- Incorporated municipalities
The Minister of Government Relations governs the District and acts as its council. Funds to administer the District come from the Northern Municipal Trust Account. The Northern Municipal Trust Account Management Board is appointed to make recommendations to the Minister. The ministry's Northern Municipal Services acts as the District's local government authority.
Although rich in natural resources, this sparsely populated region is challenged by limited infrastructure, and lower education levels and average incomes when compared to the rest of the province. The isolation of the communities creates special circumstances for northerners working to build their economy and their homes.
The Government of Saskatchewan recognizes these challenges and puts a special emphasis on helping people within the NSAD to realize their goals and to improve their standard of living. Government is strengthening key northern industries with an emphasis on:
- Forging partnerships among northern agencies;
- Stimulating mineral exploration, forestry development; and
- Supporting the tourism and commercial fishing sectors.
Mineral Surface Lease Agreements
Northern Engagement works with Environment's Landscape Stewardship Branch to negotiate and administer Mineral Surface Lease Agreements for northern mines operating on Crown land in the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District. The leases are co-ordinated with various provincial government ministries and industry and address a range of issues to which mining companies must respond. They include land tenure, environmental protection measures, occupational health and safety provisions and socio-economic benefits for northerners.
Northern Engagement currently administers 12 Surface Lease Agreements. These Agreements cover former mine sites that are in decommissioning and reclamation stages, current operating sites and mine sites that are under construction.